Justia Virginia Supreme Court Opinion Summaries
Gregory v. Northam
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court ruling that Plaintiff had not articulated a legally viable cause of action and denied any requests made for injunctive relief, holding that there was no reversible error in the judgment.Plaintiff brought this complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief concerning Governor Ralph S. Northam's order to the Department of General Services to remove the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, Virginia from Commonwealth property. The circuit court dismissed the claims, holding that Plaintiff failed to state a claim that he possessed the legal right to prohibit the Commonwealth from moving the monument. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in dismissing Plaintiff's claim with prejudice. View "Gregory v. Northam" on Justia Law
Taylor v. Northam
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court concluding that Governor Ralph S. Northam's order to remove the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, Virginia from property owned by the Commonwealth was not improper or unlawful, holding that Plaintiffs' claims were without merit.At issue in this case was whether language in an 1890 deed, signed by the then Governor of Virginia, and an 1889 joint resolution of the General Assembly requesting and authorizing the Governor to sign the deed, prohibited Governor Northam from ordering the removal of the state-owned Lee Monument from state-owned property. The circuit court found that the language in the deed created restrictive covenants but that those restrictive covenants were unenforceable and that the Governor's actions seeking to remove the Lee Monument did not contradict public policy or violate the Virginia Constitution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the the circuit court did not err. View "Taylor v. Northam" on Justia Law
City of Charlottesville v. Sclafani
The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the judgment of the court of appeals applying the law of the case doctrine to this appeal of an award of workers' compensation benefits but affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals upholding the Workers Compensation Commission's award of benefits to Plaintiff, holding that the evidence supported the award.Plaintiff's claim was initially denied on the basis that, although Plaintiff had clearly suffered an injury, he failed to establish an identifiable incident or sudden precipitating event that caused the injury. The Commission reversed the Deputy Commissioner's ruling and entered an award of benefits. The court of appeals ultimately affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the court of appeals erred in its application of the law of the case doctrine; and (2) the evidence supported the Commission's award of benefits to Plaintiff. View "City of Charlottesville v. Sclafani" on Justia Law
Eubank v. Thomas
The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' malicious prosecution claim and affirmed the circuit court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' abuse of process claim, holding that the claim for abuse of process failed as a matter of law.Mathews County initiated criminal proceedings against Plaintiffs alleging that Plaintiffs added an expansion of their residence and that the expansion encroached on neighboring property. The warrants were later dismissed or nolle prossed. Plaintiffs then filed a complaint against the County Administrator and two County employees alleging malicious prosecution and abuse of process.The circuit court granted the County employees' demurrer and dismissed the case with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the "thing decided" doctrine does not apply to a claim of malicious prosecution or abuse of process; (2) Plaintiffs' allegations of malicious prosecution were sufficient to withstand demurrer; and (3) Plaintiffs' claim of abuse of process failed as a matter of law because Plaintiffs did not allege that any particular process was abused. View "Eubank v. Thomas" on Justia Law
Lopez v. Intercept Youth Services, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting a plea in bar and dismissing a complaint alleging that an employer operating a residential program for at-risk youth had negligently failed to protect an employee who had been murdered by one of the residents, holding that the court correctly held that the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act provided the exclusive remedy for the employee's death.Plaintiff, the estate of the murdered employee, filed a negligence claim against Defendant, the employer, claiming that the employer had negligently created an unsafe work environment for the employee. Defendant responded by filing a plea in bar, arguing that the exclusivity provision of the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act, Va. Code 65.2-307(A) precluded the negligence and wrongful death claims. The court granted the plea in bar and dismissed the action with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly held that the employee's murder had arisen out of the conditions of her employment and that the exclusivity provision of the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act applied. View "Lopez v. Intercept Youth Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Potter v. BFK, Inc.
The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's judgment finding that a Buell Classifier was ordinary building material and, as such, was subject to Virginia's statute of repose, holding that the Buell Classifier at issue was equipment within the meaning of Va. Code 8.01-250.Luck Stone Corporation owned and operated a stone quarry. A part of its operation was system for the production of manufactured sand. In 2007, Luck Stone replaced earlier equipment with two Buell Classifiers and other components of the sand manufacturing system with products manufactured by BFK, Inc. Daniel Potter, who was employed by Luck Stone as a driver, was killed during the course and scope of his employment. Plaintiff, Daniel's father, brought an action under the Virginia Wrongful death Act, Va. Code 8.01-50, against BFK. BFK filed a plea in bar, arguing that Plaintiff's action was barred under the statute of repose because the Buell Classifier did not qualify as equipment or machinery. The circuit court sustained the plea in bar and dismissed the action against BFK. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Buell Classifier was equipment within the meaning of section 8.01-250, and therefore, the circuit court erred in sustaining BFK's plea in bar based on its conclusion that the Buell Classifier qualified as ordinary building materials. View "Potter v. BFK, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Labor & Employment Law
Evans v. Evans
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court vacating as void ab initio a portion of an earlier divorce decree that had ordered Appellant to pay child support because the court issuing the support award never acquired personal jurisdiction over Father, holding that there was no error.The circuit court concluded that the divorce court did not have personal jurisdiction over Appellant when it issued the final divorce decree, and therefore, the portion of the final decree order an in personam award of child support was void ab initio. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the divorce court did not obtain personal jurisdiction over Appellant pursuant to Appellee's requested service by order of publication; and (2) therefore, the provisions of the divorce decree awarding child support were void ab initio. View "Evans v. Evans" on Justia Law
Posted in: Family Law
Virginia Electric & Power Co. v. State Corporation Commission
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the State Corporation Commission finding that a pumped storage hydroelectric facility (or pumped storage) generates "renewable energy" under the former definition in Va. Code 56-576 and that the amended definition would not apply to contracts executed before the amendment's effective date, holding that there was no error.The Commission concluded that pumped storage satisfied the statutory definition of renewable energy in effect at the time that the service provider executed its contracts and declined to find that the amended definition would apply retroactively to contracts executed before the amendment's effective date. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission did not err in its interpretation of the statute or its finding that pumped storage satisfied the former definition of renewable energy; and (2) the Commission did not err in refusing retroactively to apply the amended statutory definition of renewable energy to the service provider's contracts that were executed before the amendment took effect. View "Virginia Electric & Power Co. v. State Corporation Commission" on Justia Law
Kinsey v. Virginia Electric & Power Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court sustaining Virginia Electric and Power Company's (VEPCO) plea in bar regarding conflict preemption and dismissing Plaintiffs' complaints alleging common law personal injury, holding that conflict preemption barred Plaintiffs' claims.After VEPCO installed smart meters on Plaintiffs' home Plaintiffs fell ill with symptoms of unknown origin or cause. Plaintiffs sued VEPCO for common law injuries. The circuit court granted VEPCO's plea in bar and dismissed the complaints, finding that the claims were barred by conflict preemption. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in dismissing Plaintiffs' claims as preempted by federal law. View "Kinsey v. Virginia Electric & Power Co." on Justia Law
Pinedo v. Commonwealth
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the circuit court refusing to instruct the jury "with the model instruction regarding a claim-of-right defense," holding that the claim-of-right defense did not apply under these circumstances.Defendant was convicted of first degree felony murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. At trial, Defendant asserted a claim-of-right defense, arguing that he lacked the requisite criminal intent to be convicted of robbery or the other offenses that relied on the robbery charge. The circuit court, however, refused to give the model jury instruction regarding the claim-of-right defense. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err when it refused to instruct the jury regarding the claim-of-right defense. View "Pinedo v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law
Posted in: Criminal Law